Monday, October 05, 2009

God's firemen

Many victims of fire die in their sleep–overcome by smoke inhalation. Oblivious to the fire. Oblivious to the peril. They don’t even know that they are dying–until it’s too late to flee the flames.

A Christian is like a sleeper in a burning apartment complex. God awakened him. Awakened him before he succumbed to smoke inhalation. Awakened him before the fire cut off his only escape route.

In principle, he would race out outside and watch it burn down from a safe distance. Then go on with his life. Start a new life. Make new friends. Put it all behind him.

Instead, he pounds on doors up and down the hallway to awaken his fellow tenants. If they don’t respond, he will bust the door down and carry his incapacitated neighbor out of the building, then return to rescue others.

He can’t awaken them all. He can’t rescue them all. But he does what he can, while he can–before the building is engulfed in flames.


  1. Thanks for the parable, Steve. You cover a lot of very important points.

    I had a few additional thoughts on it:

    There's an apartment complex full of dead tenants who have been overwhelmed by smoke from a devastating fire. The wealthy and generous Owner of the complex, according to a Special Plan He, His Father, and His Spirit have devised, enjoins His Spirit to revive some of the dead residents. These newly revived are then pressed into service to help revive some of the others in the complex.

    But there's a problem.

    The others are truly dead, and the revived tenants cannot awaken them by their own efforts, no matter what they do.

    But instead of giving up, they ask the Owner to revive some of the others, as many as He sees fit, according to His Special Plan. They don't know who those people are specifically, so they pound on all the doors just the same.

    And those who come forth are welcomed by them, helped out of their dangerous predicament, and counselled. They are then gathered together in one place that they may thank the Owner for His love and care for them.

    Now I found it quite difficult to manage that parable and get all the pertinent information in. As it is, it says nothing clearly regarding justification, faith, repentance, atonement, imputed righteousness, and many other important doctrines.

    Both parables paint a vivid picture of our plight, and I think that's absolutely crucial, at least as a start. Yours works better, I think, as a reflection of everyday life from our point of view, whereas the addition of supernatural elements in mine actually complicates things and calls for numerous presuppositions.

    I don't know.

    Perhaps the two stories could be combined somehow?

    As always, thanks for making me think!

  2. "God's firemen"

    "In your writing at Denver Seminary, you will be required to use gender-neutral language."

    Steve, if you were at Denver Seminary, you would be required to change the title of your post.

    So as to please the faculty and to be in obedience with the handbook, you might then want to change the title of your post to:

    "God's firefighters".

    By making this change, Steve, it would enable you to share the gospel better, i.e., you'll rescue people from hellfire more effectively when you go pounding on their doors by the gracious use of gender-neutral language. As Dr. Blomberg says, "Which is more important--to stop perpetuating the myth that keeps some people from becoming Christian, namely, that evangelicals are hopelessly sexist in their language or to ask mature believers to apply 1 Corinthians 9:19-23?"

    BTW, despite the sexist title of your post, the substance of your post was EXCELLENT!!

  3. I found this very helpful and have sent it to a number of people as food for thought.

    I am a grave sinner when it comes to feeling the urgency to evangelise and acting. I am happy to dialogue with people at a distance but do not take every opportunity presented to me to God-speak.

    I pray God will transform me.